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Sunday, February 19, 2012

EURO 2012 PREVIEW - SWEDEN



EUROS HISTORY -   Best Result: Semi Finals ‘92
                                    Worst Result: Group Stages ’00, ‘08

FIXTURES -
      11 June 2012               Olympic Stadium, Kiev        v Ukraine
      15 June 2012               Olympic Stadium, Kiev        v England
      19 June 2012               Olympic Stadium, Kiev        v France

MANAGER - Erik Hamren

CAPTAIN - Zlatan Ibrahimovich

TEAM PROFILE -

You need to go back to the class of 2004 for the last worthwhile result that Sweden had in a major championship. Reaching the quarter finals in Portugal with a side that boasted the likes of Freddie Ljunberg and Henrik Larsson in their pomp and an up and coming young fiery striker in Zlatan Ibrahimovich. If we decide to go further deep into the history books then the class of 1992 that reached the semi finals when Sweden made their first appearance in the EURO championships on home soil comes to mind. They enhanced their international credibility further by clinching the 3rd place in the FIFA World Cup ‘94 in USA.

Apart from these sporadically good displays Sweden have never quite managed to catch the eye in any major tournaments of note. Usually known to be a very well organized team with good defensive organization, they have been faltering of late with some dismal performances in major tournaments. Starting with the EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland where a combination of bad luck and abysmal performances saw them eliminated in the group stages that boasted the likes of eventual champions Spain and surprise power house performers and semi-finalists Russia.

Dismal show in the ’08 EUROS was then followed by some shambolic displays in the FIFA ‘10 World Cup qualifying stages as they failed to get through a group that boasted the likes of Denmark, Portugal and Hungary, as a result of which the then coach Lars Lagerback was sacked and replaced by Erik Hamren, who will be leading his side into this year’s championships.

Their performances in the qualifying stages have been nothing short of impressive. Pitted in a group consisting Finland and 2010 World Cup runners-up Holland, Sweden managed to a second place finish with an impressive tally of 8 wins and 2 losses in 10 that boasted of an unbeaten home record that had a silver lining in the form of a fine victory over Holland in the famed Rasunda Stadium. They qualified as the best second placed team among all the groups ahead of Portugal and Croatia.

Star man and current captain Zlatan Ibrahimovich was their top scorer in qualifying stages with 5 goals. He is known for his brilliant technique, ability to lead the attack or drop deep and get involved in link up play, all of which were in for brilliant showing in the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal by Milan this week at the San Siro. He does tend to get moody at times and drifts in and out of games a lot but when on song he is one of the most complete centre forwards in world football today, justified rightfully by his very impressive medals tally.

Veteran centre back and Aston Villa legend Olof Mellberg currently playing for Olympiacos is another vital cog in the side, who has 109 caps to his credit. Lyon man Kim Kallstrom, a versatile central midfielder with a good work rate, determination and team ethic typifies what his national team is all about. He has the ability to play on the left side of midfield, but also has potential to operate as a deep lying playmaker. PSV striker Ola Toivonen and former Bolton man Johan Elamander currently playing for Turkish league side Galatasaray are rich options on the forward front.

Sunderland man Sebastian Larsson has finally come of age and looks every bit the player that once Arsene Wenger imagined him to be. A very creative winger, Larsson is known for his ability from dead ball situations and his knack of scoring last gasp goals to salvage precious points for his team.

Young gun Rasmus Elm playing for Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar is a very good midfielder with good passing prowess and free kick taking ability; he was recently in the news for being monitored by Manchester United. Blackburn Rovers utility man Martin Olsson all of just 23 years old is already a permanent fixture in the side and can play as a full back or as a winger on the left.

Manager Erik Hamren appointed after the failure of the side to qualify for the FIFA ‘10 championships in South Africa has done a fine job by steadying the ship and extracting good performances from his players, On the other hand he has also been laying the foundations for the future by giving a host of opportunities to top young players in the country. He usually prefers a 4-2-3-1 double pivot system in midfield with a lone man upfront, clearly designed to suit their talisman and captain Zlatan Ibrahimovich.

Having been drawn in a group that boasts the likes of England, France and Ukraine they will have to put up some very impressive performances if they want to better their results from last time. They boast a very impressive record against England in major championships or qualifying. Take the EUROS ‘92 for instance when they were drawn in a similar group that had France and England and they managed to beat the English and draw the French. They remained unbeaten against England again in the EURO 2000 qualifying stages as they beat them at home and managed a draw away. A 1-1draw in FIFA World Cup ‘02 and a 2-2 draw again in the World Championships in Germany in 2006 when they had England on the mat in the second half does show that they have a good measure of them when it comes to major tournaments.

They start their campaign at the Olympic stadium in Kiev against joint hosts Ukraine on the 11th of June followed by England on the 15th and France on the 19th at the same venue. Zlatan and his big game reputation will be put to the sternest of tests as he leads his side into this year’s championships determined to better that of their illustrious predecessors of ‘04 or ‘92 if we want to be that optimistic.



4 comments:

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the most overrated players in the world throughout his career. Despite winning
    his domestic league numerous times,Ibrahimovic has never produced for his club in European competitions.

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    1. yes, he has this dubious reputation of going missing for the big games, but he has scored lots og goals wherever he has played under different managers and in various systems, and with the showing against Arsenal last week he could have very well turned a corner...only time will tell

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  2. "Take the EUROS ‘92 for instance when they were drawn in a similar group that had France and England and they managed to beat the English and draw the French" - They could go one better by bating them both. With England's campaign already in atters after the recent Terrygate and an inconsistent French in their group Sweden might find it really easy to go through the group. But if Ibrahimovich fails to fire on all guns I believe their campaign is not going to go anywhere beyond the group stages. A tricky group for the Swede.

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    Replies
    1. point well made and England have not beaten them yet in a major tournament. I personally dont see them progressing at the expense of France but they will stand a chance against England and Ukraine.

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